What's the Weather like in Istanbul in January
January in Istanbul is mid-winter; cold and wet. The average temperature is just 6C, with highs of 8C and overnight lows of 4C or below. Those parts of the province furthest from the sea experience more considerable continental influences, and the drop in temperature overnight will therefore be much more pronounced. It's not uncommon for temperatures to fall below freezing at this time, and there may even be a few inches of snow (on average, January sees around 4 snow days each year). Lake-effect snow from the Black Sea is common, although difficult to forecast, and is often quite heavy. It will also almost certainly be foggy and overcast on several days of the month, and most mornings. The coldest temperature ever recorded in January is -11C in Kartal, in the south-west part of the province, and cold temperatures are combined with shorter days (just five hours of sunshine on average).
Rain and Humidity
Whether or not it snows, around 100mm of rainfall is expected over 14 days of the month so it is likely to be quite wet compared to August which averages 20mm in the height of summer. Showers are usually light, but prolonged, so expect some rainy days and plan for indoor activities. The northern villages of Sarıyer are the wettest part of Istanbul province at this time of year and, in fact, see significantly more rainfall year round; in January about 152mm. With the wet weather, there are also higher levels of humidity (around 80%, which is really very humid).
Average Sea Temperature
In case the beach still seems like a viable option, or the chilly temperatures haven't provided sufficient dissuasion from water sports, sea temperatures are also correspondingly low (just 13C on average).
It's a similar story across Turkey. In Alanya and Dalaman, in the south, the average temperature is just 10C (only 4C higher than Istanbul), with highs of 14C or 15C and overnight lows of less than 7C. It isn't likely to be very much warmer, and it will be a lot wetter. In Dalaman, for example, 216mm of rainfall is expected over 14 days in January (more than twice that expected in Istanbul).
Istanbul Hotels in January #
The Neorion Hotel personifies luxury accommodation in Istanbul. The terrace offers spectacular views over the city, visit the spa for a little relaxation and pampering, or the café for a glass of delicious, authentic Turkish coffee.
The beautiful Hotel Sultania offers five star accommodation in the heart of the city. The rooms are decorated in a classic, traditional style. And with two restaurants serving a range of Turkish and international cuisine, as well as a cooking school, the catering is superb. Book a treatment at the Sultan Spa for some pampering, and with a gym, Turkish bath and indoor pool, there's plenty to occupy even the most demanding guest.
Bars and Restaurants
When it comes to food, you'll be spoiled for choice in Istanbul. Everything from slick fusion restaurants, to traditional street-food stalls. Try a delicious kebab, with a gourmet pomegranate twist, at Leb-i derya in Tünel.
For a real taste of Istanbul, head over to Ciya in Kadiköy. The Meze ve Salatalar (salads) offers a taste of several different, delicious, traditional Turkish dishes. For something more substantial, but equally lovely, try the Ekili Kebap, ıhıl Mahi or Yalı Köfte.
Babylonia Garden Terrace Restaurant
Babylonia Garden Terrace Restaurant in the old city is fabulous. The lamb crepes are beautifully cooked and seasoned with a range of traditional spices; delicious. It is a little more expensive, but quite comparable with other restaurants in the area
Things to do in Istanbul in January
The Topkapi Palace, was once home to Sultans and their harems, and the heart of the Ottoman Empire. As well as the gilded harem which housed the wives and concubines, the sprawling hilltop complex houses boast the royal jewels of the Treasury. And there are fabulous views from the gold Breakfast Pavilion. It's an unmissable part of Istanbul's history.
Hagia Sophia is a Byzantine masterpiece. Built by Emperor Justinian in 537AD, it was the world's greatest cathedral for more than nine centuries. After Constantinople fell to the invading Turks in 1453 it became a mosque, before being converted into a museum. Don't miss the stunning mosaics in the gallery.
Facing Hagia Sophia, the 17th-century Blue Mosque (or Sultan Ahmed Mosque, to give it its proper title) is one of only a few in the world to boast six minarets. But its interior is what gives the building its nickname, with decorative blue tiles covering every wall. Open to non-Muslims, it's still a place of prayer, so you'll need to dress appropriately.